Take it from someone currently going through it, the college admissions process is daunting. From academic applications, to prescreens, to live callbacks, each step of the experience requires focus and discipline.

However, there are certain DOs and DON’Ts that make the process more manageable and contribute to your success. 

College Audition Tips: The DOs and the DON’Ts

DO: Organize your information. I have found that Google Sheets is my best friend. I made a sheet with all schools I was applying to and hyperlinked a specific Google Doc to each of these school names. Then I used these documents as a place to keep track of research about each school: deadlines, prescreen requirements, and links to the department website and their prescreen submission platform.

The college admission process can be daunting, but certain steps can help make the process more manageable. Illustration by Reyna Young.

By doing this, I could easily access specific information about each
school whenever I needed it. I also started another spreadsheet specifically for my pre-screen material. I organized it by the school name. I included which songs and monologues I planned to use, time restrictions, and framing guidelines.

DON’T: Don’t pick material outside of your comfort zone in an attempt to impress. In dance, I’ve always been told “a clean single pirouette is better than a messy double.” Picking material that I’m 100 percent comfortable with allows me to trust that I can give my best performance no matter what. Being completely comfortable with the material lets me showcase what makes me special.

How to Stand Out in College Auditions

DO: Let your personality shine! Colleges aren’t just looking for skills, they are
looking for students that they want to work with. Pick material you’re genuinely excited about. Wear outfits you feel confident in. And bring authenticity to your writing supplementals and
wildcard videos. Let colleges get to know the real person you are behind the artist they are interviewing.

DON’T: Don’t pick material from a role you couldn’t play right now. The key to storytelling is authenticity. Don’t choose material that makes it harder for your authenticity to come through. A Doll’s House by Henrick Ibsen is one of my favorite plays, and I love Nora’s monologues. However, I know that her monologue about (spoiler alert!) leaving her husband and children will not be believable coming out of my mouth. I don’t have the experience necessary to bring true authenticity to the monologue. A more age-appropriate monologue allows me to dive into the character work and approach the piece as truthfully as

DO: Take multiple days to film. At first, I tried to film everything for my prescreens in one day. I quickly realized that this approach tired out my voice, caused me to start over thinking my material, and gave me emotional whiplash when switching between different moods.

I also wasn’t fully connecting to one of my pieces on my  filming day and knew that it would be entirely better if I waited for a day when I was better equipped to work.

Give yourself time to spread out your filming so that it all can be completed to the best of your ability.

DON’T: Don’t let your research stop at “best programs.” If you look up “best schools for theatre,” you will find lists naming the same 25 or so schools. But the reality is, there are alumni from all the top programs who are not getting work, and it’s up to you to make the best of your education.

In order to do this, you need to find schools that directly align with your values. Dive into your research for each school so you can find and learn about its environment, values, and teaching styles. Get connected with current/former students. Take advantage of virtual information sessions, and read

The Most Important Things to Remember

THE MOST IMPORTANT DO: Have fun with the process. Sure, it can be incredibly daunting and stressful. And yet, at the end of the day, it is a very special time in your journey as a theatre artist. The best thing I have done has been to relax and trust that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. I am doing the hard work, and I am using this time to meet new people, play with material that I genuinely enjoy, and discover new things about myself as a performer. 

Peyton Locke Lyons is an International Thespian Officer class of 2022-23.

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